It's clean-up time
It's New Year and time to clear the files that have accumulated and are clogging your PC. There are several ways to clean up the cyber `rubbish'. Check them out...
FOR A year now possibly longer you have been using your PC. Thanks to all those supposedly `free' CDs that come with the various monthly computer magazines, one is constantly tempted to add more to the hard disk. And tools like Web browsers and anti-virus programmes change so fast that they have to be regularly upgraded.
Is it any surprise that the PC seems to run slower every day? You may have tried to use the ``uninstall'' programmes that good software writers are supposed to provide. But even the best of them never remove everything they put in.
New Year is a good time to clean up that `cyber rubbish' and prepare it for another year of use (and misuse)! Here's how you can do it spending a little time, rather than money:
The handiest tool available on ``Wintel''(Windows software and Intel chip) machines is what Windows provides free: Disk Cleanup. Many first time users neglect to regularly use this tool, waiting till the junk that accumulates with every hour of surfing gobbles up all the space on your drive!
* Click on the ``Start'' button. Then go to ``Programmes". Open the ``Accessories'' folder. Click on ``System Tools'' and when the menu pops up, click on ``Disk Cleanup".
* This will bring up a list of options portions of the hard disk that contain non-essential files, like deleting temporary files, emptying the recycle bin, removing downloaded files that are not being used. You can check the boxes against the options you want to exercise. However, one option you must not exercise (it's sneaky of Microsoft to have included it!) is removing the Windows Uninstall programme. If for any reason you want to remove the current version and revert to an earlier one, this programme is essential. So no matter how tempting the space that can be saved by this operation is, say a firm `no'.
Once Disk Cleanup has done its job, Windows offers two other tools to loosen up some extra space:
First, go to the System Tools folder and run the "Scan Disk'' option. This will locate loose strings chunks of data no longer linked in logical format. Erasing this will add a few hundred MBs of hard disk space.
The other ``asthra'' is ``Disk Defragmenter'' again accessed by searching the options in System Tools.
This does what it says: gathers up various fragments of the programme code and packs them up more efficiently so that the gaps are reduced.
This is a fairly lengthy process typically it could take around half an hour.
Also, this is like a game of snakes and ladders, if you perform some operation on the PC while the "defrag'' is going on, it will get cancelled and start all over again. So it is best to leave the PC alone when defragmenting.
Hardly anybody these days risks running a PC without installing an anti-virus software. The big names in this business Norton AntiVirus, MacAfee's ViruScan or TrendMicro need to spend money if you want to use them beyond trial periods. But many users think it is worth it. However, this writer has found that the free anti-virus package known as ``AVG'' that can be downloaded from www.grisoft.com is adequate and if you register once, it can be periodically updated by going online to the website.
This is not all! Your hard disk still harbours a lot of trash because none of the Windows tools does a thorough job and the anti-virus software looks out only for viruses. However, a number of companies as well as individuals have placed literally hundreds of tools on the Web to help you perform a thorough `sweeping' operation. The majority of such tools (which can be located by entering the keyword ``file cleanup tools'' in the search engine www.google.com) are priced wares, which can be downloaded free but used only for a limited trial period. But there are some clean up tools that are completely free.
If you go to www.freedownloadscenter.com and search for ``File Cleanup Utilities", you can download a free shareware tool called ``Disk CleanUp 3.2'' which is only 108 KB in size and hence downloads in a minute or two.
It is useful for clearing previously deleted files that still leave a footprint. You can also try ``EServ Purger 1.2'' which removes old files from your directory or more than 10-day old messages.
Checkout the disk clean free wares at www.webattack.com a fairly long list which includes freeware like ``WinWash", which first creates a catalogue of all the files on your drive; the next time, you run the software, it deletes all the files that have been added since then.
This is a very useful tool for routine cleaning of the PC that is used by a number of users say in a cyber cafe.
Another neat tool at WebAttack is ``Clean System Directory", which specifically addresses the Windows System directory, and removes programme strings known as DLLs (dynamic link libraries), that are no longer in use.
Another clean up tool that looks interesting at this site is called ``Speedy Rubbish Killer". It is tailored for those who use Netscape as their browser. One can clean out the Netscape cache the folder into which every page that you surf is copied manually. But this is not very convenient and this tool does it for you automatically. It is about 460 MB in size and takes 3-4 minutes to download.
So which is the tool for you? Search with Google or any other search engine and it will take you to a clean up tool you were looking for.
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